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Editing USGS DEM Data

Howdy folks, it's been a while. It's also good to be back.

Lately, I've been dabbling in the addition of accurate terrain data courtesy of the USGS National Map Viewer and the subsequently-retrieved 1/3 arc second DEM data. All of the data that I have been able to find for my project areas (NC/VA) has been in .IMG format, rather than GeoTiff. I have been using QGIS as part of the OSGeo4W tool package to convert from IMG to GeoTiff. Then, I use Resample and get the BGL file which, of course, goes into FSX. Overall, the process has been pretty smooth.

I have two pressing questions on this subject.

First, is there a way to directly edit this data? Often times, the terrain data is detailed enough to show the runway's slope. The only way to really fix this in FS is to flatten it out, change the airport elevation (as needed), flatten more things out, and, oh yeah, keep playing with the flattens until you get something that looks halfway decent. It seems to my uneducated-on-this-subject mind that there would be a much easier way to solve the problem, rather than countless hours of compiling, opening FS, looking, closing FS, and repeating.

Second, the data that I have looks like this in QGIS:


It is a far cry from the gorgeous imagery that I have have seen various places on these forums, most notably here, on this thread. Granted, my image shows data that is 1/3 arc-second. Of course, I would expect that 1/9 data to be more detailed, but not that much more.

Edit: I have used 1/9 data from various places in North Carolina, and it looks the same as above.

If anyone can give any guidance, it would be much appreciated! Thanks!
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